The winners of this week's media reorgs

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This week in advertising: Media giants reorg, ad reviews pick up, and Disrupter Media's departure from traditional media.

Media reorgs

Disney and NBCUniversal made big leadership changes this week to adjust their business operations to the pandemic. A few thoughts about who the winners are of all this:

  • The content. With its theme park and cinema businesses tanking, Disney had to double down on its streaming business that includes Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus. That puts the intellectual property that fuels it and the executives behind it center stage.
  • Data and commerce. One of NBCU ad boss Linda Yaccarino's new tasks is building a data-strategy unit to bring together the company's sprawling research for performance-hungry advertisers. The idea is to package NBCU audiences in different ways and use data to grow NBCU's new shoppable ads, among other things.
  • Activist investors. Disney's reorg was pushed by Dan Loeb, who wanted the company to double down on Disney Plus. Recently it was AT&T making changes in response to pressure from Elliott Management, including reportedly seeking a sale of its digital ad sales unit Xandr.

Read more about the Disney changes here: Meet the 5 Disney execs who gained power in its major reorg, including Kareem Daniel who will spearhead its ambitious streaming strategy

Ad reviews pick up

After an early-pandemic pause, companies are resuming reviews of their advertising and PR business, which means millions of dollars could soon be about to change hands.

Some are adapting their messaging to the new consumer reality while others are looking for help digging out of pandemic-related hits to their business.

One big question: Will the accounts stay with the big holding companies, or go to any of the new agency upstarts that have cropped up in recent years?

Read the full stories here:

  • T-Mobile, JPMorgan Chase, and the other top advertising accounts that agencies are watching, with billions up for grabs
  • The most-watched public relations accounts including GNC and Expedia that are up for grabs

Media defectors

New sports blog Defector Media has gotten a lot of buzz for its unconventional business model, which grew out of last year's high-profile editorial dispute at Deadspin. Mark Stenberg talked to the principals there about the thinking behind the approach. 

Some of the key points:

  • It's employee-owned, subscription-based, and free of outside investment.
  • Staff members all know each other's salaries.
  • Everyone gets paid the same "base," with the chance to make more depending on the company's financial success.
  • Two-thirds of shareholders can vote to oust executives.

There are some drawbacks to this — being employee-owned makes it hard to get outside investment, for one.

Its approach may be especially radical for the industry, but as the rise of unions across other digital media companies has shown, employees are expecting more transparency from their bosses and control at work generally. 

Read the rest here: Inside Defector Media, a startup where everyone knows each other's salaries, executives can be fired by a two-thirds vote, and each person owns 5% of the company

Other stories we're reading:

  • Former Marvel execs, Murdoch money, and Hollywood ambitions: How a new comics company adapted to the pandemic after launching in March (Business Insider)
  • Fewer Fistfights, Less Sex—TV Production Gets a Covid Makeover (Wall Street Journal)
  • A day in the life of a TikTok influencer with over 1 million followers, from creating skincare videos to negotiating brand deals (Business Insider)
  • 'You've got to know your sh*t': How Netflix reinvented its marketing on social media (Protocol)
  • Advertising's hottest job: chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer (Ad Age)

That's it for this week. See you next week, and thanks for reading.

— Lucia Moses, deputy editor

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